Athletes Behind the Wheel
The Porsche 996/997 GT3 Cup cars of the Yokohama Drivers Cup are highly advanced and visually exciting thoroughbreds. But bythemselves, they are soulless without a driver’s athletic input. One of the more proficient practitioners of the physical art of racing these exacting cars is the series current 997 GT3 Cup Champion, Steve Valentinetti, who immersed himself in sports at an early age.
“When I grew up, my next door neighbor was Tom Peterson – who ended up being eight-time World Champion roller speed skater. I started bike racing then started training with Tom and also started skating. We were both Category 1 cyclists. I also raced motorcycles and was the state open-class dirt bike champion when I was 16. I raced Go-Karts on the local and regional level and also skied for the US ski team for four years. In the early 90’s, I started going to track days, and had so much fun that a good friend of mind said “why don’t you just goracing,’ so I started racing an older Porsche. Like my business, it started out small and here I am now with two semis, five cars and 18 great guys on the team who make it all happen. Makes you wonder how you did it before when all you had was an open trailer and a jack and an extra set of wheels and my girl friend!”
His business also grew from simple beginnings: “I started Airline Shuttle in Seattle in 1989. They contracted us to move lost luggage only, so I bought vans and busses to move the people also. When we have fog here in Seattle, they land the planes in Vancouver or Portland and then bus the people to Seattle. This is a frustrating experience for people and I did not like the impersonal way they went about doing this. So I started helping people get to their destination more efficiently with less stress. We now have 28 vans, two busses and various executive vehicles. Now, in addition to moving the public, we have the contracts to move the flight crews of all the airlines in Seattle, plus transporting Microsoft executives to and from the airport.”
Steve brings that work ethic and attention to detail to the race track: last year he won the championship with twelve wins. “We race in other series, but the Yokohama Drivers Cup has a nicer feel to it. Greg Franz and Ann Mitchell are very open to feedback and the group is friendlier: the guys help each other more. It is a great stair-step into a top-end pro series.”
Steve and the Yokohama Drivers Cup USA will be racing next at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course July 11 – 13. From buses to race cars, Steve understands it is not about individual glory but that winning benefits the entire team.
Yokohama Drivers Cup USA is the premier American racing series that focuses on education and coaching to make its participants competent drivers at all levels. Drivers race their own Porsche GT3 996 and 997 Cup Cars during three day weekends in anenjoyable atmosphere with one-on-one professional coaching and direct help from its technical partners. This unique blend of racing and education produces drivers that enjoy their on-track experience with competence.